By Sam Webb

We've heard reports of bears at several sites on Boulder Mountain. Take extra care in that area.

Most wild animals will leave you alone if you leave them alone. Bears can be an exception, even though they are shy and normally avoid contact with people. They can become troublesome and even dangerous when conditioned to expect an easy meal in camp garbage bags and tables. When they find food in a campground they sometimes lose their fear and become bold enough to search for more. That's when they cause problems — that's when they rummage through camp gear and sometimes walk through tents.

Keep a clean camp! If you leave garbage or food items out, you are inviting bears into your camp. Keep food in closed coolers or other containers, and keep them in your vehicle, if possible. Keep garbage cans away from your camp.

The smell left on a float tube when a trout flops against it has been enough to entice a bear to rip the tube to pieces, searching for the fish. Keep things clean and put away.

If you encounter a bear try to leave it alone. Don't approach it. Get into your vehicle and wait until it leaves. It's better to let it eat your cookies than to defend them. If you feel you must scare the bear away then start making loud noises. Honk your horn. Bang pans together. Don't rush toward the animal, or chase it. Stay in a safe location and make noise. That will encourage the bear to leave, and also alert other campers there may be a problem.

Report bear activity to Forest Rangers or DWR officers. Once a bear adopts the easy life of a camp robber, he'll probably keep coming back until he causes real problems. He'll have to be captured and transplanted into a remote area where he has little chance to encounter campers.

Most people go their entire life without seeing a Utah bear in the wild. Problems are rare, but they occur often enough to warrant caution. We wouldn't have bears if we didn't have wonderful wild areas. The two go together. You can enjoy our great outdoors in safety if you use caution.

If you are planning on camping and hiking in either the Uinta or Boulder mountains this year, you may have some company.

Here are specific tips:

Never store your food in your tent when you are in bear country. It is the dumbest thing you could possibly do!

Keep your food in your car: (with the doors and windows closed) or hoist it up into a tree (between 10 and 15 feet).

Don't clean fish in or near your camp and don't leave the fish entrails lying around — unless you want to see a bear up close and personal.

Don't leave your ice chest sitting out where a bear can get to it. Bears have no problem getting into and eating anything you have in the chest.

Bears will drink your milk, soda pop or beer (yes, they can open the cans), they will rip your cooler apart and will tear your tent down if they think they will get an easy meal out of it.

Take the bears seriously and keep your food out of their reach. If you do that one simple thing you probably won't have any bear problems on your high country camping trips this year.